A bell-ringer who 'thought he was going to die' when he was flung into the air during a practice session is suing the church for damages.

Steven Tomsett, 18, broke both ankles in the incident at St Helen's Church, Abingdon, in January.

The trainee engineer also damaged his right leg and injured his lower back when he was sent flying into the air after the wooden stay which keeps the bell upright was broken.

Mr Tomsett, who was 17 at the time of the accident, said: "I was pulled quickly up into the air and just remember looking down and seeing everybody's faces looking up at me. It was terrifying and was one of those moments when you think you are going to die. I thought is this really happening to me?

The Oxford Times:

"At about 20ft up I let go and came crashing down and then heard somebody shouting for me to let go.

"The pain I felt was just indescribable. I was in absolute agony. It's fair to say I was using language that shouldn't probably be used in church."

The teenager was rescued from the church tower by the fire service who winched him to the floor, as a stretcher could not be taken along the spiral staircase to the bell ringing room.

The Oxford Times:

Mr Tomsett is taking a personal injury claim against the church and says the incident has left him in 'constant pain'.

He said via his solicitors on Tuesday: "I'm taking action against the church as this whole thing was avoidable if the bells had been maintained properly. I'm the only one who has suffered. I lost my job, I'm in constant pain and now the church has said what happened is not their fault. It doesn't seem right."

St Helen's has been contacted for comment.